SK2 channels are required for function and long-term survival of efferent synapses on mammalian outer hair cells.
ABSTRACT: Cochlear hair cells use SK2 currents to shape responses to cholinergic efferent feedback from the brain. Using SK2(-/-) mice, we demonstrate that, in addition to their previously defined role in modulating hair cell membrane potentials, SK2 channels are necessary for long-term survival of olivocochlear fibers and synapses. Loss of the SK2 gene also results in loss of electrically driven olivocochlear effects in vivo, and down regulation of ryanodine receptors involved in calcium-induced calcium release, the main inducer of nAChR evoked SK2 activity. Generation of double-null mice lacking both the alpha10 nAChR gene, loss of which results in hypertrophied olivocochlear terminals, and the SK2 gene, recapitulates the SK2(-/-) synaptic phenotype and gene expression, and also leads to down regulation of alpha9 nAChR gene expression. The data suggest a hierarchy of activity necessary to maintain early olivocochlear synapses at their targets, with SK2 serving an epistatic, upstream, role to the nAChRs.
Project description:Although homomeric channels assembled from the alpha9 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) subunit are functional in vitro, electrophysiological, anatomical, and molecular data suggest that native cholinergic olivocochlear function is mediated via heteromeric nAChRs composed of both alpha9 and alpha10 subunits. To gain insight into alpha10 subunit function in vivo, we examined olivo cochlear innervation and function in alpha10 null-mutant mice. Electrophysiological recordings from postnatal (P) days P8-9 inner hair cells revealed ACh-gated currents in alpha10(+/+) and alpha10(+/-) mice, with no detectable responses to ACh in alpha10(-/-) mice. In contrast, a proportion of alpha10(-/-) outer hair cells showed small ACh-evoked currents. In alpha10(-/-) mutant mice, olivocochlear fiber stimulation failed to suppress distortion products, suggesting that the residual alpha9 homomeric nAChRs expressed by outer hair cells are unable to transduce efferent signals in vivo. Finally, alpha10(-/-) mice exhibit both an abnormal olivocochlear morphology and innervation to outer hair cells and a highly disorganized efferent innervation to the inner hair cell region. Our results demonstrate that alpha9(-/-) and alpha10(-/-) mice have overlapping but nonidentical phenotypes. Moreover, alpha10 nAChR subunits are required for normal olivocochlear activity because alpha9 homomeric nAChRs do not support maintenance of normal olivocochlear innervation or function in alpha10(-/-) mutant mice.
Project description:We report the cloning and characterization of rat alpha10, a previously unidentified member of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) subunit gene family. The protein encoded by the alpha10 nAChR subunit gene is most similar to the rat alpha9 nAChR, and both alpha9 and alpha10 subunit genes are transcribed in adult rat mechanosensory hair cells. Injection of Xenopus laevis oocytes with alpha10 cRNA alone or in pairwise combinations with either alpha2-alpha6 or beta2-beta4 subunit cRNAs yielded no detectable ACh-gated currents. However, coinjection of alpha9 and alpha10 cRNAs resulted in the appearance of an unusual nAChR subtype. Compared with homomeric alpha9 channels, the alpha9alpha10 nAChR subtype displays faster and more extensive agonist-mediated desensitization, a distinct current-voltage relationship, and a biphasic response to changes in extracellular Ca(2+) ions. The pharmacological profiles of homomeric alpha9 and heteromeric alpha9alpha10 nAChRs are essentially indistinguishable and closely resemble those reported for endogenous cholinergic eceptors found in vertebrate hair cells. Our data suggest that efferent modulation of hair cell function occurs, at least in part, through heteromeric nAChRs assembled from both alpha9 and alpha10 subunits.
Project description:Small conductance Ca(2+)-sensitive potassium (SK2) channels are voltage-independent, Ca(2+)-activated ion channels that conduct potassium cations and thereby modulate the intrinsic excitability and synaptic transmission of neurons and sensory hair cells. In the cochlea, SK2 channels are functionally coupled to the highly Ca(2+) permeant α9/10-nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) at olivocochlear postsynaptic sites. SK2 activation leads to outer hair cell hyperpolarization and frequency-selective suppression of afferent sound transmission. These inhibitory responses are essential for normal regulation of sound sensitivity, frequency selectivity, and suppression of background noise. However, little is known about the molecular interactions of these key functional channels. Here we show that SK2 channels co-precipitate with α9/10-nAChRs and with the actin-binding protein α-actinin-1. SK2 alternative splicing, resulting in a 3 amino acid insertion in the intracellular 3' terminus, modulates these interactions. Further, relative abundance of the SK2 splice variants changes during developmental stages of synapse maturation in both the avian cochlea and the mammalian forebrain. Using heterologous cell expression to separately study the 2 distinct isoforms, we show that the variants differ in protein interactions and surface expression levels, and that Ca(2+) and Ca(2+)-bound calmodulin differentially regulate their protein interactions. Our findings suggest that the SK2 isoforms may be distinctly modulated by activity-induced Ca(2+) influx. Alternative splicing of SK2 may serve as a novel mechanism to differentially regulate the maturation and function of olivocochlear and neuronal synapses.
Project description:Nothing is known about the regulation of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) in hair cells of the inner ear. MuSK, rapsyn and RIC-3 are accessory molecules associated with muscle and brain nAChR function. We demonstrate that these accessory molecules are expressed in the inner ear raising the possibility of a muscle-like mechanism for clustering and assembly of nAChRs in hair cells. We focused our investigations on rapsyn and RIC-3. Rapsyn interacts with the cytoplasmic loop of nAChR alpha9 subunits but not nAChR alpha10 subunits. Although rapsyn and RIC-3 increase nAChR alpha9 expression, rapsyn plays a greater role in receptor clustering while RIC-3 is important for acetylcholine-induced calcium responses. Our data suggest that RIC-3 facilitates receptor function, while rapsyn enhances receptor clustering at the cell surface.
Project description:Efferent inhibition of cochlear outer hair cells is mediated by nicotinic cholinergic receptors containing alpha9 (a9) and alpha10 subunits. Mice lacking a9 nicotinic subunits fail to exhibit classic olivocochlear responses and are characterized by abnormal synaptic morphology at the base of outer hair cells. To detail molecular changes induced upon the loss of a9 subunit, we sampled cochlear RNA from wild type and a9 null mice at postnatal (P) days spanning periods of synapse formation and maturation (P3, P7, P13 and P60). Our findings point to a delay in cochlear maturation starting at the onset of hearing (P13), as well as an up-regulation of various GABA receptor subunits in adult mice lacking the a9 nicotinic subunit. Overall design: Cochleae were removed at postnatal ages P3, P7, P13 and P60. Cochlear tissues from 3-5 mice were pooled per replicate; biological triplicates were performed for each age and genotype.
Project description:Efferent inhibition of cochlear outer hair cells is mediated by nicotinic cholinergic receptors containing alpha9 (a9) and alpha10 subunits. Mice lacking a9 nicotinic subunits fail to exhibit classic olivocochlear responses and are characterized by abnormal synaptic morphology at the base of outer hair cells. To detail molecular changes induced upon the loss of a9 subunit, we sampled cochlear RNA from wild type and a9 null mice at postnatal (P) days spanning periods of synapse formation and maturation (P3, P7, P13 and P60). Our findings point to a delay in cochlear maturation starting at the onset of hearing (P13), as well as an up-regulation of various GABA receptor subunits in adult mice lacking the a9 nicotinic subunit. Cochleae were removed at postnatal ages P3, P7, P13 and P60. Cochlear tissues from 3-5 mice were pooled per replicate; biological triplicates were performed for each age and genotype.
Project description:Cochlear inner hair cells (IHCs) release neurotransmitter onto afferent auditory nerve fibers in response to sound stimulation. During early development, synaptic transmission is triggered by spontaneous Ca2+ spikes which are modulated by an efferent cholinergic innervation to IHCs. This synapse is inhibitory and mediated by the alpha9alpha10 nicotinic cholinergic receptor (nAChR). After the onset of hearing, large-conductance Ca2+-activated K+ channels are acquired and both the spiking activity and the efferent innervation disappear from IHCs. In this work, we studied the developmental changes in the membrane properties of cochlear IHCs from alpha10 nAChR gene (Chrna10) "knockout" mice. Electrophysiological properties of IHCs were studied by whole-cell recordings in acutely excised apical turns of the organ of Corti from developing mice. Neither the spiking activity nor the developmental functional expression of voltage-gated and/or calcium-sensitive K+ channels is altered in the absence of the alpha10 nAChR subunit. The present results show that the alpha10 nAChR subunit is not essential for the correct establishment of the intrinsic electrical properties of IHCs during development.
Project description:Long-term potentiation (LTP) of synaptic strength at Schaffer collateral synapses has largely been attributed to changes in the number and biophysical properties of AMPA receptors (AMPARs). Small-conductance Ca(2+)-activated K(+) channels (SK2 channels) are functionally coupled with NMDA receptors (NMDARs) in CA1 spines such that their activity modulates the shape of excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) and increases the threshold for induction of LTP. Here we show that LTP induction in mouse hippocampus abolishes SK2 channel activity in the potentiated synapses. This effect is due to SK2 channel internalization from the postsynaptic density (PSD) into the spine. Blocking PKA or cell dialysis with a peptide representing the C-terminal domain of SK2 that contains three known PKA phosphorylation sites blocks the internalization of SK2 channels after LTP induction. Thus the increase in AMPARs and the decrease in SK2 channels combine to produce the increased EPSP underlying LTP.
Project description:It has previously been shown that deletion of chrna9, the gene encoding the alpha9 nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) subunit, results in abnormal synaptic terminal structure. Additionally, all nAChR-mediated cochlear activity is lost, as characterized by a failure of the descending efferent system to suppress cochlear responses to sound. In an effort to characterize the molecular mechanisms underlying the structural and functional consequences following loss of alpha9 subunit expression, we performed whole-transcriptome gene expression analyses on cochleae of wild type and alpha9 knockout (alpha9(-/-)) mice during postnatal days spanning critical periods of synapse formation and maturation.Data revealed that loss of alpha9 receptor subunit expression leads to an up-regulation of genes involved in synaptic transmission and ion channel activity. Unexpectedly, loss of alpha9 receptor subunit expression also resulted in an increased expression of genes encoding GABA receptor subunits and the GABA synthetic enzyme, glutamic acid decarboxylase. These data suggest the existence of a previously unrecognized association between the nicotinic cholinergic and GABAergic systems in the cochlea. Computational analyses have highlighted differential expression of several gene sets upon loss of nicotinic cholinergic activity in the cochlea. Time-series analysis of whole transcriptome patterns, represented as self-organizing maps, revealed a disparate pattern of gene expression between alpha9(-/-) and wild type cochleae at the onset of hearing (P13), with knockout samples resembling immature postnatal ages.We have taken a systems biology approach to provide insight into molecular programs influenced by the loss of nicotinic receptor-based cholinergic activity in the cochlea and to identify candidate genes that may be involved in nicotinic cholinergic synapse formation, stabilization or function within the inner ear. Additionally, our data indicate a change in the GABAergic system upon loss of alpha9 nicotinic receptor subunit within the cochlea.
Project description:SK2-containing channels are expressed in the postsynaptic density (PSD) of dendritic spines on mouse hippocampal area CA1 pyramidal neurons and influence synaptic responses, plasticity and learning. The Sk2 gene (also known as Kcnn2) encodes two isoforms that differ only in the length of their N-terminal domains. SK2-long (SK2-L) and SK2-short (SK2-S) are coexpressed in CA1 pyramidal neurons and likely form heteromeric channels. In mice lacking SK2-L (SK2-S only mice), SK2-S-containing channels were expressed in the extrasynaptic membrane, but were excluded from the PSD. The SK channel contribution to excitatory postsynaptic potentials was absent in SK2-S only mice and was restored by SK2-L re-expression. Blocking SK channels increased the amount of long-term potentiation induced in area CA1 in slices from wild-type mice but had no effect in slices from SK2-S only mice. Furthermore, SK2-S only mice outperformed wild-type mice in the novel object recognition task. These results indicate that SK2-L directs synaptic SK2-containing channel expression and is important for normal synaptic signaling, plasticity and learning.